This article offers a critique of the dominant ways of conceiving of, managing, and evaluating development. It argues that these management methods constrain the exploration of novelty and difference. By drawing on insights from the complexity sciences, particularly the theory of emergence, the article calls for a broadening of our understanding of how social change comes about. Arguing that the domain of development is not a narrow technical discipline, but an intensely social and political practice of mutual recognition, this article calls for a greater focus on power and processes of relating as they affect local interaction between people.
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